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Spy Archive Left on Amazon by Pentagon Contractor

By William Vogeler, Esq. on November 24, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

So much is a mouse-click away these days.

A playlist of classic rock. A video of cats doing funny things. A billion online posts collected by military spies. Wait, what?

That's right, U.S. military intelligence made a huge trove of social media surveillance publicly available -- one mouse-click away from being spread across the internet. Thank goodness it was only your Facebook information. Wait, what?

Spy Archive

According to reports, a Pentagon contractor left the spy collection wide open on an Amazon account. It included more than 1.8 billion posts spanning eight years.

Security firm UpGuard disclosed the data leak, reporting that the government exposed a massive amount of data on "three publicly downloadable storage services." Anyone with an Amazon Web Server account could access it.

"The repositories appear to contain billions of public internet posts and news commentary scraped from the writings of many individuals from a broad array of countries, including the United States," Dan O'Sullivan said on UpGuard's blog.

The find raises "serious concerns about the extent and legality of known Pentagon surveillance against U.S. citizens," he said. The disclosure added to recent reports that the government routinely monitors U.S. citizens and green-card holders online.

Facebook and Twitter

The spy files included "a vast quantity of Facebook and Twitter posts," according to reports, along with addresses of targeted posts and other personal information.

"Besides raising questions about the collection of data from people located in the U.S., the UpGuard finding also exposes security practices so lax they're hard to fathom," Dan Goodin said for ArsTechnica.

A single permission settings change would have revealed the information to the wider internet, UpGuard said.

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